Loudoun United was the last D.C. area soccer team to play before the Covid-19 pandemic, playing to a scoreless draw with the Philadelphia Union II in the evening of March 7. They find themselves the last D.C. area soccer team to restart their season, albeit doing so in different circumstances. The game is on national television (ESPN 2), and the USL Championship is welcoming fans back into stadiums, the first sport to do so. While the decision to bring fans back is dependent on local county and state guidelines, Loudoun will be playing in front of a limited (read: around 1,300) crowd at Hartford’s Dillon Stadium.
The two teams found themselves in battles at the bottom of the Eastern Conference last season, with two of Hartford’s eight wins coming against Loudoun, the latter being a 5-1 thrashing at Dillon where all five goals were scored in a first half, 35-minute span. Loudoun finds themselves on the road again, playing Hartford the first two games, and seven of the first nine on the road. The schedule has left them slightly fortunate, as Hartford played Friday night against the New York Red Bulls II, and Loudoun is their 2nd game of a five games in sixteen days stretch. Combine that with Loudoun’s first opponent (Philadelphia Union II) getting shellacked at home Saturday night to a 6-0 score, the chance for Loudoun to steal a road result to better their Group Play chances appears to have become an opportunity.
Key player: Michael Gamble
Loudoun Coach Ryan Martin has known Gamble for a decade (more on Gamble can be found in our feature), is aware of his capabilities and what the team will want to accomplish on the field. Hartford was outshot 20-6 on Friday, with 14 shots allowed inside the box, but the defense was up to the task in a 1-0 win. For Loudoun to be successful, Gamble will need to find any attacking players he can for scoring opportunities.
Location: Dillon Stadium (Hartford, CT)
Kickoff time: 7:00pm Eastern
Projected Loudoun starting 11: With D.C. United in Florida and having all hands on that deck, Earl Edwards Jr., Kevin Paredes, Griffin Yow and Moses Nyeman won’t be at Martin’s disposal. That said, Loudoun should have nearly a full roster, with Joshua Fawole (LCL) the only absence, with Ted Ku-DiPietro and Tyler Gabarra as probable. Edwards and Yow were not loaned for Loudoun’s March game, so the impact for Loudoun will not be too deep, I would expect Nelson Martinez or Brandon Williamson to handle Nyeman’s role, with Massimo Ferrin or Ronald (RJ) Fuentes to play on the outside in Paredes’ spot. Loudoun’s next game is not until August 2, so Martin is planning to try and use all 5 of his substitutions if possible.
Starters: Colin Miller; Joshua Greene, Adam Lundegard, Shane Wiedt, Peabo Doue; Jeremy Garay, Martinez; Ku-DiPietro, Michael Gamble, Ferrin; Alioune Ndour
Bench: Lorenzo Gordon, Allexon Saravia, Jake Dengler, Williamson, Ally Nganzi, Elvis Amoh, Kairo Amoustapha
Key Hartford player: Ever Guzman
If you are a deep soccer fan, you will recognize the name of the 31-year-old forward, who scored four goals in the 2005 FIFA U-17 World Cup, finishing tied for second (with Turkey international Nuri Sahin) for the Golden Boot. Guzman’s Mexico teammate Carlos Vela took the honors. Guzman played for various clubs in the Liga MX like Morelia and Veracruz, but did not find his scoring touch again until signing for San Antonio FC in 2017, and left at the end of 2019 with 23 goals in 61 games with the club, as its all-time leading goal scorer. He played on Friday and was the team’s goal-scorer, in an, well...
So yes, Loudoun will have eyes on him if he goes.
Referee: As of Sunday night, not announced.
Available TV: ESPN2
Available streaming: WatchESPN
What are you drinking?: A couple of options; Solace Brewing is down the road from me, and I’ve been meaning to try “Beach Bod,” their Belgian Wit. I may grab something from the Eastern Shore before coming home, I don’t know.
This is the place for all your pre-game, in-game, and post-game discussion. Vamos possible good things!